BLOODHOUNDBLOG.COM

There’s always something to howl about

iPhone may herald a whole new way to shop for homes

This is me in today’s Arizona Republic (permanent link).

 
iPhone may herald a whole new way to shop for homes

Could Apple’s new iPhone have been more hyped? Maybe not, but a feature of the mobile phone announced last week could have an enduring impact on real estate marketing.

Technology vendors have talked for a decade, at least, about the idea of convergence. Some day, the telephone, television and personal computer will merge into one device through which we will pursue networked “edutainment.” TV set-top boxes get more sophisticated with each new generation, but we’re a lot closer to true convergence on our mobile phones.

Like many Realtors, I use a Treo 650 mobile phone. In addition to being able to make calls, it has Internet access and email capability onboard. Underneath all that is a Palm-OS-based personal digital assistant, a small but very powerful computer that “syncs” with my desktop computer back in the office.

It’s long been my belief that a sufficiently powerful mobile phone could replace my laptop computer. Even now, my Treo 650 is only missing one mission-critical function: I cannot directly access the MLS system through my phone.

The iPhone may be the laptop-killer for Realtors. The new version of Apple’s Safari Internet browser, to be included on the iPhone, successfully navigates the MLS system. The contract-writing software Phoenix-area Realtors use can be run through a Web-based service. Between portable, battery-powered printers, emailed PDF documents and the onset of digital signatures, a hi-tech Realtor could have a fully functioning office in his pocket or her purse.

And Apple also announced last week that the iPhone would implement the YouTube.com video standard. Because of the company’s marketing clout, we can expect other phone and software vendors to follow suit.

What this means in that someday soon, you will be able to drive from house to house in a neighborhood, visiting each home’s Web site and taking video virtual tours, all without getting out of the car.

When you find a home you want to see in person, your means of making contact with your Realtor will be right there in your hand.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Related posts:
  • Uh Oh… Apple’s iPhone Caught With Its Pants Down
  • More on the iPhone . . .
  • The iPhone 4 emerges: Multi-tasking, HD video, richer screen, etc.

  • 16 comments

    16 Comments so far

    1. Michael Price June 29th, 2007 9:12 am

      We’re obviously very excited about this. All of those early adopters that have allowed us to publish their listings to iTunes over the last year are grinning from ear to ear as they watch people line up in front Apple stores all over the country. After these folks connect to iTunes to activate their phones they are literally only a couple of clicks away from our customer’s content. Sweet.

    2. Greg Swann June 29th, 2007 9:17 am

      > After these folks connect to iTunes to activate their phones they are literally only a couple of clicks away from our customer’s content.

      Bread cast upon the waters. Utterly brilliant.

    3. Todd Carpenter June 29th, 2007 9:36 am

      Additional convergence comes from the embedded gps functions of most modern cell phones. i assume the iPhone is no different.

      Imagine a buyers agent being able to trickle a feed of new listings that match the buyer’s criteria. Then, as buyer meanders around town, alerts would pop up concerning the new listing in the direct vicinity. The alert then delivers directions to the house. Once the buyer has arrived, they can watch a video tour from the curb.

    4. Rob Green June 29th, 2007 9:40 am

      Michael,

      This is the first I’ve ever heard of podcasting your listings and I must say it’s brilliant! With the growing tech-savvy market I can see where virtual tours will become a diminishing presence in real estate marketing.

      I’m curious if anyone on Bloodhound has any statistics as to the effectiveness of this marketing method. Any comments?

    5. Michael Price June 29th, 2007 9:49 am

      Rob,
      We’ve been publishing listings to iTunes since the capability to add video was initially offered. The real benefit is in the ability to broadcast the RSS feed for a video podcast across a very large network of other sites, thus increasing the exposure in organic searches in Yahoo, Google etc. Very powerful stuff.

    6. Orange County, NY Real Estate June 29th, 2007 9:52 am

      From what I’ve read the iPhone will not have GPS. :(

    7. Greg Swann June 29th, 2007 9:54 am

      > I’m curious if anyone on Bloodhound has any statistics as to the effectiveness of this marketing method. Any comments?

      We’re not statistics types at BloodhoundRealty.com, our own brokerage, but this is what we do on-line with our listings:

      • A custom web site or weblog for that home, with the URL promoted on the home’s sign, flyer and every collateral piece we do
      • Hundreds of photos of everything relating to the home, large and small, as well as photos of the neighborhood
      • One or more virtual tours
      • A marketing video
      • An interactive floor-plan
      • The listing, comparable listings, the disclosure statement and any other documents we can obtain for the home
      • etc.

      My belief is that the photos are the most effective marketing tool, but we do everything we can think of. We’re playing with different ideas for video, because the ordinary real estate video is pretty boring.

      But: Consider this: If you drive up to one of our listings with your iPhone, you can go to the web site for that home and see everything, just as we built it. Frankly, we anticipate that most people will do this from home (and our MLS allows us to put the web address in the Remarks section, so anyone who sees our listings by IDX can find the site). But within a year, all high-end mobile phones will have robust web browsers. Like Mike Price, we’re ready for them.

    8. Michael Price June 29th, 2007 10:08 am

      Regarding stats. We track the log files of a few clients. We have one client who can identify podcast directory links that in some months have generated 30% of their incoming direct referrals to their web site. That doesn’t factor in the organic improvements, so there is no doubt that it represents a substantial return on investment. It also gives them a story to tell in listing presentations. Sellers are intrigued with forward thinking real estate professionals that are using new tools to expand listing distribution.

    9. Robert Kerr June 29th, 2007 12:47 pm

      What this means in that someday soon, you will be able to drive from house to house in a neighborhood, visiting each home’s Web site and taking video virtual tours, all without getting out of the car.

      That ability here today. Just put a mobile wireless card in your laptop.

    10. Jay Thompson June 29th, 2007 1:37 pm

      “That ability here today. Just put a mobile wireless card in your laptop.”

      True, but what percentage of people carry around a mobile wireless enabled laptop, compared to…oh say the percentage of people that carry around a phone?

    11. Kevin Boer June 29th, 2007 5:25 pm

      Between portable, battery-powered printers, emailed PDF documents and the onset of digital signatures, a hi-tech Realtor could have a fully functioning office in his pocket or her purse.

      Alas, my preferred e-sig provider, Docusign, does not yet support Safari. Otherwise the iPhone could indeed by my office-on-a-phone, replacing my current office-on-a-laptop.

    12. Greg Swann June 29th, 2007 6:02 pm

      > Alas, my preferred e-sig provider, Docusign, does not yet support Safari.

      Check with the Safari 3 beta. Better: Have them check using the Safari 3 beta with their browser check modified to allow it. I know of no sites that are failing except because of a hard-coded browser check. If our kludgey MLS system works, everything should.

    13. Tim B June 30th, 2007 8:34 pm

      Okay, so you’re saying people are going to drive around and look at the outside of a home, surf to the listing agents website and be so impressed they will ask for a home viewing?

      All this on a 3 1/2 by 2 1/4 inch screen? Granted, I don’t have internet on my cell phone and I don’t know what a website would look like on the iPhone but I cannot imagine it would inspire me to call anyone other tahn an eye doctor.

      My idea would be to do my research before driving around. I’d do my research on my 17 inch monitor at home, write down the addresses of the interesting homes and then go out to see the outsides. When I find a home I think fits my needs, I would then use my cell phone to call my agent.

      As far as PodCasts…I thought they could be viewed on a regular computer? I view them on my home computer. Some take 1-3 minutes to download on broadband. In any case, a video podcast would have a size of 320×240 pixels right? Basically the same size as a iPhone. My guess is the iPhone useable screen area is probably more in the range of 300 x 220 pixels. So, what do you get…A low quality video that likely takes in excess of 5 minutes to download on an iPhone and is smaller than the already small podcast. The podcasts I’ve seen on my home computer are for the most part less likely to spark my interests in a home than a series of about 10 regular sized pictures in the 5 x 9 inch range with excellent resolution.

      The iPhone and cell phone technology in general has been hyped out of proportions. In 5-10 years, the cell phone may be good enough to be a laptop killer but 2007 is not the year. Of course…different strokes for different folks. Also the stats for the viewing/downloading of podcasts are less than 10% of the adult population. It drops to 4% when it’s a video podcast. Of course an audio podcast would be next to useless in enticing a buyer when there should be a full featured and large version on the home or laptop computer.

      All my opinions stated here are just that…my opinion and mostly uninformed opinions at that. Common sense must rule the day though.

    14. Michael Price July 1st, 2007 1:52 am

      Q: “….surf to the listing agents website and be so impressed they will ask for a home viewing?”
      A: Sure, why not. It’s entirely plausible.

      Q:All this on a 3 1/2 by 2 1/4 inch screen?
      A:The Widescreen Display is Quite Nice and the zooming ability makes it nice to view detail. I’m pretty sure it’s larger than you might imagine. When it comes to screen real estate, it certainly can not be compared with other mobile devices that I am aware of.

      Q:As far as PodCasts…I thought they could be viewed on a regular computer?
      A:You’re correct, and that is how most people view them and will continue to for some time to come.

      Q: a video podcast would have a size of 320&215;240 pixels right?
      A: No. Recently the standard size of a Video Podcast was increased to 640 x 440 in anticipation of Apple TV display and the iPhone.

      Q:”A low quality video that likely takes in excess of 5 minutes to download on an iPhone and is smaller than the already small podcast.”
      A: Actually the size is not smaller and the resolution on the iPhone is astounding. Apple claims it to be twice as good as a normal monitor, so far I would have to agree. Some of the videos we’ve built that started out with sub par photos actually look really good on the phone. I was skeptical about that until I got the phone in my hands. Videos in QT or MPG4 format can be viewed directly from web pages and automatically size to fill the screen. These video formats look much better than the YouTube function on the phone, but the YouTube videos are still impressive in quality, much better than a standard monitor. I was also surprised at the ATT edge network speed, it actually wasn’t too bad. 5mb videos downloaded pretty quick.

      I wouldn’t call the phone a laptop killer, but I can guarantee it’s killed about 60% of the need for my laptop. I can see many many Realtors taking full advantage of the presentation and business capabilities of the iPhone. So far I am extremely impressed with the device. (no I did not stand in line for it, I just drove to the ATT store and bought it :)

      As far as the “stats” are concerned, that survey was limited to the context of pure podcasting and didn’t take into consideration many things, including all of the distribution points that would put the videos in front of eyeballs in destinations other than iTunes. Like most surveys on web usage, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The only real stats that matter are the quantity and quality of the increased exposure that a listing gets through the distribution of the video feed (we also upload to sites not considered “podcasting” destinations). When you see the impact it has on direct referral and improved organic search results, it’s a “no-brainer”. When it comes to iPhones and devices like it, they’re just icing on a much bigger cake of content distribution.

    15. [...] P.S. Gregg Swann will be happy to know that one of his iPhone posts was part of the handout from this morning’s meeting! [...]

    16. [...] ********** Top 13 iPhone articles (from Jay Thomspon & Greg Swann… thanks, geeks guys!): This is Not About the iPhone… Apple’s New iPhone Realtor.org’s inner-geeks peer into the iPhone The iPhone is excellent, but its missing features give laptop computers a reprieve — for now With the iPhone is Apple’s Steve Jobs placing a collect call to the entire wireless communications industry? The iPhone is not just a phone, it’s the perfect mobile convergence device for cyberstalkers iPhone may herald a whole new way to shop for homes The big iDea: iPhone could spawn a host of new products A contrary point of view: “Apple iPhone debut to flop, product to crash in flames” iPhone reviews begin to appear: A strong win with caveats The sweet euphony of iPhone news . . . Apple iPhone round-up . . . Time mag on the iPhone . . . [...]